I write this post with an infection in my hand, a splinter that took two days and a fly-by-night surgical operation to remove, and even poison ivy.
The Garden was planted by a well-known horticulturalist and somehow I inherited this potential…. thing of beauty. I have wrestled with it over the years, referred to it as “The Wild Kingdom” and been fired by Pedro, my gardener. Pedro finally wised up and left me.
But this time, I had help! My friends came from as far away as New Jersey and California and from as close as next door, somehow always as I was just finishing up. Demanding a little bit more and a few more hours. Prima said to me, “Mom he (the horticulturalist designer) is going to make a gardener of you yet!” Stewart said, “other people would have paid Pedro to rip it out and put in grass, but not you…. you have restored it.”
The climbing hydrangea in full bloom!
And it’s true. I finally feel like it’s becoming mine, morphing into a cottage garden like the one of my dreams, admittedly with a bit more elbow grease. I can sit outside and watch the fireflies and appreciate the work, like a runner’s high, but with more pollen.
In spite of all the injured body parts and sore muscles, I’m proud of it. It’s finally become My Wild Kingdom. Thank you my friends for helping me see what it could be and coming to the rescue.
I had a little baggie in my freezer with about 10 harmless-looking little peppers in it. My friend from Trinidad gave them to me last year, fresh from the garden. At the time she warned me they were hot, but I forgot.
Beware those island peppers, oh my. I wish I had a picture of those little peppers, if only for specimen identification later.
The tomatoes had a late run of productivity and were hanging green on the vines. Prima was anxious to use them, not wanting to let any of her hard work gardening go to waste.
Fresh salsa from the garden.
I modified this recipe, Green Tomato Salsa Verde from freshpreserving.com. It is really quite tasty, even if only people from Texas are able to eat it. This is a great way to use up the last of summer’s fresh produce.
Cooking and sneezing.
Packed with flavor.
Here’s a hint: if you start sneezing uncontrollably while making salsa, ease up on the peppers. If you went overboard, then add a little sugar or honey and extra citrus. I added the juice from two additional limes and a tablespoon of honey and was able to bring the heat down to merely tearing up instead of sneezing.
I blame Pinterest. However, the photograph below is not from Pinterest, but from my backyard last Friday evening.
A Summer Party!
I have a beautiful yard, a beautiful husband, and a knack for stressing him out with my big ideas. I wanted to celebrate his 40th birthday in style while he just wanted to forget about it.
Diane Daly’s Jazz Trio.
Pinterest is eye candy for decorator types. Stunning visuals at your fingertips that make one lust for all things better around the house.
Last Friday evening I threw a party that was worthy of Pinterest. Except it was better. On Pinterest you don’t get to hear the jazz trio playing, or taste the lobster canapés. You don’t get to feel the breeze, smell the wildflowers or watch the candlelight glimmer and the children run around with sparklers. It was magical and it was REAL.
A Cake Made of Cheese
Then there was the cheese. I made a cake out of cheese. This “cheesecake” was made of Fontina, an organic smoked Creamy Jack, and Camembert. I cut up fresh figs and sprinkled the cheese with blackberries. I used mini chalkboards for labels. It was enough cheese to please Wallace, Gromit and a hoard of people at my party. It was both easy and elegant, perfect for a beautiful summer evening.
This was a harsh winter. The only plants that seemed to survive were the weeds. My bay plant, rumored to be more than 50 years old, died. We cut it down and this is all that’s left.
The Bay Stump.
It was fragrant as we burned the old bay branches, in a funeral pyre sort of way. As we were chopping down and burning up the old bay plant, my mind was wandering and worrying about the nearby fig trees. I would go outside and snap a branch and hold my breath and hope that it was just late to leaf out and that these two fig trees were sleepy and taking their time to unfold after this extreme winter.
Just “mostly dead.”
Then I saw a little green! Turns out, the fig trees are only “mostly dead.” In the movie The Princess Bride, Miracle Max declares Wesley “mostly dead.” The trees are leafing out from the base of the trunk and I am going to need Miracle Max to come and help me coax them back to life. I will call my uncle, a botanist, and ask him for help: he’s a little like Miracle Max for trees.
There is hope!
Perhaps their intentions are noble and the fact that I love them will be enough. The fig trees know that I bought this house just for them. They have listened to me play my flute outside the window for the last couple of months. Together we have suffered through hours of practicing as I prepared to play principal flute in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Then again, maybe this has contributed to their demise.
This clip is from a recent concert, taken on the sly from my friend’s lap. Her skirt is lovely isn’t it? This bit of the third movement is a piece of what the trees have been listening to from outside the window. Have a listen if you want to know what I’ve been up to lately and let me know how your plants fared this winter!